In the existential hotel are two rooms with an adjoining door. In one room the door leads in, the other out. It is a point of contention.
— David Raffin (@David_Raffin) September 27, 2013
Obama meets with Bush to get advice about how to proceed in Syria.
Obama: I don’t understand. I mean, you made it all seem so easy. How do I get approval for military action in Syria?
Bush: Your mistake is in asking for permission. If you want to bomb a country, you just do it.
Obama: I see. You’re saying “it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than ask for permission.”
Bush: Exactly. (Pause) What’s forgiveness?
It used to be that these standard rejections came by certified mail and were printed in ornate script on fine paper. Today they all come by text message. Still, they carry with them the same tradition. They are summary rejections. And they are form letters.
If someone were to travel forward from 100 years in the past they would recognize them immediately. “That is a standard rejection of a petition for love, sent by the bureau that handles such,” they would say. But then they would add, “Where is the ornate script and fine paper?” And they would look sad. Because 100 years ago we were a more tactile people appreciative of ornate flourishes. Even if there was, as today, a shortage of love.
A traveler from 500 years earlier would not recognize either rejection. Modern love had not yet been invented. It is a bittersweet fact.
At least in the electronic age one need not stand in the terrible lines at the petition office. As early as a decade ago people still had to queue up in line for hours to qualify for the chance at rejection. People did this, as today, for the slim hope that their petition would be granted.
The form rejection lists a reason. The reason is never revealed outright but instead a reference is made to a number. The number corresponds to a large reference which holds all the reasons rejection may be made. There are 100 volumes in question. The reasons for rejection are, some say, innumerable, but in reality they mostly break down to endless variations on three reasons which no one likes to discuss. Most people do not bother to look up the reference number listed in their rejection.
Mine was V.21.12.91. “Rejected for tendency to look up and contemplate facts and figures.”
We all know people whose petitions for love have been, or seem to have been, granted. It is commonly thought that some petitions are granted only to make the system seem viable. In fact, these successful petitions have a high failure rate. There is a complaint bureau. It is housed on the top floor of the tallest building in the world. There is no elevator. When you arrive at the single window you find it empty with a sign that says, “No Returns.”
There has always been a shortage of love and that is why a system of rationing has been set up. To preserve love by careful denial.
The truth is there has been no new love manufactured since 1992. All the love in the world is used. And second-hand love has a resale value which can only be classified as pitiful.
Pigasus and the Yippies were charged with disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace, and bringing a pig to Chicago. At the trial, defense counsel William Kunstler accused the Democratic Party of doing exactly the same thing.
The trial transcript provides this exchange between Kunstler and folk singer Phil Ochs.
MR. KUNSTLER: Did you have any role yourself in that?
THE WITNESS: Yes, I helped select the pig, and I paid for him.
MR. KUNSTLER: Now, did you find a pig at once when you went out?
THE WITNESS: No, it was very difficult. We stopped at several farms and asked where the pigs were.
MR. KUNSTLER: None of the farmers referred you to the police station, did they?
THE WITNESS: No.
MR. FORAN: Objection.
THE COURT: I sustain the objection…
MR. KUNSTLER: Would you state what, if anything, happened to the pig?
THE WITNESS: The pig was arrested with seven people.
MR. KUNSTLER: When did that take place?
THE WITNESS: This took place on the morning of August 23, at the Civic Center underneath the Picasso sculpture.
MR. KUNSTLER: Who were those seven people?
THE WITNESS: Jerry Rubin. Stew Albert, Wolfe Lowenthal, myself is four; I am not sure of the names of the other three.
MR. KUNSTLER: What were you doing when you were arrested?
THE WITNESS: We were arrested announcing the pig’s candidacy for President.
MR. KUNSTLER: Did Jerry Rubin speak?
THE WITNESS: Yes, Jerry Rubin was reading a prepared speech for the pig—the opening sentence was something like, “I, Pigasus, hereby announce my candidacy for the Presidency of the United States.” He was interrupted in his talk by the police who arrested us…
MR. KUNSTLER: Do you remember what you were charged with?
THE WITNESS: I believe the original charge mentioned was something about an old Chicago law about bringing livestock into the city, or disturbing the peace, or disorderly conduct, and when it came time for the trial, I believe the charge was disorderly conduct.
MR. KUNSTLER: Were you informed by a police officer that the pig had squealed on you?
THE WITNESS: Yes.
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[The genesis of this post being a link
from Sara Lachman greatfully acnowledged.]
(Originally written when the Swede’s gave Obama the Peace Prize. The Swedish sense of humor is odd. For instance, they let the Norwegians give out the Peace Prize. An indication of how seriously they take it.)
Obama’s old hat
by David Raffin
President Obama, honored with a Nobel peace prize while fighting two wars, appeared to accept his prize. His speech was in some ways a departure from the past but in others it was old hat.
The president stood behind the podium and the microphones, his demeanor professional and dignified. He paused for a moment taking in the occasion and the feel of the room. Then he leaned forward into the mic and spoke.
“My wife is so fat…” he began.
There were moments of awkward silence. Finally the still air was broken by a Swedish dignitary in the audience who shouted out, hesitantly at first but then becoming more bold as he spoke, “How fat is she?”
Obama, replying immediately to cue, replied, “She’s so fat, when she sits around the house she really sits around the house.”
There was another pause filled with silence.
Obama continued, “Thank you Ladies and Germs.” The crowd sat quietly staring at him.
“Seriously though, it’s an honor to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. I flew here from Washington DC, and boy are my arms tired.”
The silence was broken by a rimshot from offstage.
There were scattered coughs and throat clearings.
One Swedish diplomat turned to another and whispered, “I warned you! The U.S. hasn’t refreshed their joke book in years!”
You know, I have never eaten at a Canadian restaurant. So I have never tasted Canadian food, having never traversed the 250 miles to the border. But I have grown, over time, to suspect that Canadian food is mostly doughnuts. And that hardly seems worth the drive.
I do get the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) here and it is mostly hockey games and doughnut advertisements.
And yes, I understand they also have fries with gravy on them. And doughnuts. But they are proud Canadian doughnuts, no doubt. They don’t call them doughnuts though. They call them “The circle of life.”
And they did name a city “Moose Jaw*” so I have to give them that. Do you have any idea what the per capita consumption of doughnuts is in Moose Jaw?
* I only know this because I have
a lot of albums by the Guess Who.
This only impresses Canadians.
I do love The Guess Who. And here is a webpage where you can download a live recording from 1974. Very nice!
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by David Raffin
If a cartoonist draws Muhammad, he or she invariably will frame that drawing between four straight lines, a graphic representation of a box. Herein lies a problem: Nobody puts Muhammad in a box.
Muhammad in the Box was a toy popular in the fifties. You turned the crank and it played a tune. But Muhammad never popped out. Angry parents would take the toy to the manufacturer and complain. The manufacturer invariably told them that Muhammad does not “pop out.” Such would be unseemly.
Some asked if Muhammad was really in the box. Here the manufacturer had to be clever. He said that Muhammad was, in fact, simultaneously in the box and not in the box at the same time. Possibly with, or without, a cat. “Is he or isn’t he?” they would ask. And he would reply “It depends on whether you want him to be. Do you want him to be? Are you looking? What are your expectations? Would you know him if you saw him? Would you know him from Jack? Perhaps you and your questioning are really the issue here.”
In this way, while there was never a no-return policy, the lack of returns was assured.
Sometimes people would journey to the manufacturer and ask, “If Muhammad is in the box, what is he doing in there?” and associated questions like, “How did he come to be in the box, if that is where he is?” and “Is there possibly anyone else in there?” sometimes followed by “and how do they get along?” Occasionally a traveler looking for answers would become clever and ask, “Are we even talking about the same Muhammad? It is a very common name.”
The manufacturer would say, “No one knows” “It is matter for the scholars” “How is it any of your business?” “With the utmost hospitality, as is the custom” and “Look in your own heart.”
The fast food outlet Muhammad in the Box makes the best falafel, granted the locations are difficult to find. They neither advertise or have a logo. But their falafel is the best.
Falafel in Europe, an experience in hospitality
Falafel stands are fairly ubiquitous throughout the world. You can buy a falafel about as cheaply as a hashish brownie in Amsterdam. Once, when I was alone in the city, I stopped at a small falafel place. I was the only customer. Here I was witness to the famous Middle Eastern hospitality. Arabs are actually renowned for their hospitality. I can only say I was treated very well for a guy who walked into a place and only spent €4.50. It’s more expensive to eat at Burger King (they have them but that doesn’t mean you should eat there).
Have you ever gone to an Indian restaurant, eaten, then stood and shouted, “Are you telling me this is Pakistani food?” I have.
All I can say is — they take it graciously.
I understand the reticence of the Pakistani immigrants to name their resulting restaurants “Pakistani” and going instead with the more common “Indian.” I get it. No one knows what Pakistani food is. Rarely, if ever, do people outside of Pakistan declare “Honey, let’s eat Pakistani food tonight.” Come to think of it, they don’t say that in Pakistan either. I don’t think they commonly use the endearing nickname “honey.” I think most of them, being 70% Sunni Muslim, prefer the more common middle eastern term of endearment, “sohniye.” Wait. That’s just Punjabi for “beautiful girl.” There is a lot of interchange in endearment. But that is neither here nor there.
What it is — is culinary deception. When I go out for Indian food I don’t want Pakistani food foisted on me as Indian food; and I certainly don’t want Indian food foisted on me when I go searching for Pakistani food.
I tell you, that is as offensive as lacing mock apple pie with real apples.